The press conference, the line up, and the amazing xG: Arsenal v Zurich



By Bulldog Drummond

Here’s the simple rule of journalism in relation to Arsenal.   If the club are perceived as doing badly then the manager is “under threat” and “being questioned”.  After that has been run a few times then the ownership of the club can also be perceived as “being questioned”.

Then when Arsenal are doing quite well (as for example being top of the Premier League, having scored the second-highest number of goals, having the second-best defence in the league on a par with the glorious and much-loved Manchester City, and a GD 17 better than Chelsea and 18 better than Manchester United) a new problem is announced.  Arsenal are going to lose their manager!!!

Thus we get the headline “Mikel Arteta responds to chances of becoming Barcelona manager amid club chiefs suggestion” which apart from the grammatical error (it should be chief’s or chiefs’ depending on whether they are talking about one chief or multiple chiefs) is nonsense.

There is of course no link.  Barcelona haven’t approached Arteta, and if they did, he’d probably laugh at them and Arsenal’s directors would complain to Barcelona, the Spanish League and Uefa. 

Besides Arsenal had a net spend of £90m in the summer transfer window, and £125m the summer before.   So, are Arsenal likely to let him go having allowed him to spend that much?  Second, would Arsenal want him to go given the success that he is having?  Third what would Barcelona offer him?   They’ve just sold a huge chunk of their future income to an American finance company, in return for another wadge of instant cash which they have just spent paying off old debts and buying new players.

And they are still not top of the league in a two horse (or occasionally three horse) race.   And yet the Daily Express (owned of course by the company that also owns the Mirror) comes along with ‘Mikel Arteta admission will worry fans as Barcelona plot move for Arsenal boss.”

The one thing that this does tell us is that Reach plc which runs those papers and Football.London thinks that we are all morons.

Anyway, since we are bashing the Mirror, let’s see what their team prediction is for tonight…


White, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney;

Elneny, Sambi Lokonga, Odegaard;

Martinelli, Nelson, Nketiah. 

So the return of Elneny, no Jesus, Eddie on the wing and …. Nelson at centre forward?

And the Standard


Cedric, Holding, Saliba, Tierney;

Vieira, Sambi Lokonga, Odegaard;

Nelson, Nketiah, Martinelli.

There’s that forward line again.  Maybe they know something – although at least they have put Eddie in the middle. goes with a bit of a combination…


Cedric, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney,

Elneny, Sambi Lokonga, Vieira,

Nelson, Nketiah, Martinelli

90min offer up not only a team but also a bench consisting of Hein, White, Saliba, Cedric, Vieira, Cirjan, Marquinhos, Jesus, Smith.

Sports Mole came in with


Tomiyasu, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney;

Odegaard, Sambi Lokonga, Vieira;

Nelson, Nketiah, Martinelli

But now let’s add a bit more and try to be fair to the Daily Mirror for they have also on line the article “Arsenal opponents talking about “frightening” aspect of Mikel Arteta’s side

The essence of which is “David Seaman has revealed that a Nottingham Forest defender highlighted the “frightening” speed of Arsenal’s passing in their 5-0 victory at the Emirates Stadium.”

They then tell us “Arsenal posting an expected goals (xG) of just 2.78.”

Now to be clear about expected goals… The Analyst website helpfully tell us that “Expected goals (or xG) measures the quality of a chance by calculating the likelihood that it will be scored from a particular position on the pitch during a particular phase of play. This value is based on several factors from before the shot was taken. xG is measured on a scale between zero and one, where zero represents a chance that is impossible to score and one represents a chance that a player would be expected to score every single time.”

But the problem is that measure is much more controversial than most writers admit.  It is a mathematical calculation based on a series of estimations – and yet it is treated by journalists and commentators as being something as fixed and certain as a goal.   The player scores a goal because a simple thing happens: the ball goes over the goal line between the posts, without an offense being committed in the build-up.   That is clear, we can look at it.   But what decides an expected goal?

At best “expected goals” is a measure of the likelihood of the goal occurring.  So think of the weather forecast, which is also a measure of likelihood.

However, it gives the Mirror the chance to knock Arsenal by saying the club “could’ve scored more on the day if Gabriel Jesus was more clinical, with the Brazilian missing two guilt-edge chances to add another to his tally.”

But hang on.  “Arsenal posting an expected goals (xG) of just 2.78.”   And they scored five!!!   And they could have scored two more if only Gabriel got his act together – making seven.

So, xG gives us 2.78 goals – which would make xG 250% out.  That means xG was pretty useless in this match, and yet they still quote it.

The mind of the Mirror journalist – in this case Kieran King is hard to fathom.  If you fancy a laugh however you can find more of his somewhat confused outpourings here.

We’re leaving soon.  Enjoy the game.



5 Replies to “The press conference, the line up, and the amazing xG: Arsenal v Zurich”

  1. elneny to start is good to show

    and rest the like of partey,xhaka, odegaard, and wait for best match coming on

    start Nelson, nketia, maquinhos to lead the line is good to show^_^

    we want to test our Dept and quality today’s
    either we could add more or not, through the window
    let do it for us
    real fan king Adonis

    k, Adonis goonner

  2. If you don’t finish the chances in the first half you can always get in trouble. Poor performance from the ref also. Assistants were allright

  3. Barring the Southampton game, that was easily the worst refereeing performance I have seen this season, and I’ve seen quite a few bad ones.

    I was hoping for balanced officiating, but that didn’t happen. Is Mr. Lambrechts as poor in his Jupiler League matches? He would appear to be well-suited to PGMOL.

  4. Seismic, I don’t really follow the Jupiler league in my country but I hear left and right that the standard is really below par the last seasons. We had a great ref a few years ago but since he retired it isn’t much anymore. The fouls he let go when it came to Arsenal players being fouled was unbelievable…

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